Personal Attributes and the Financial Well-Being of Older Adults: The Effects of Control Beliefs


To determine whether or to what extent control beliefs differ by personal attributes; to determine whether or to what extent financial well-being differs by personal attributes; and to determine whether or to what extent control beliefs mediate the relationship between personal attributes and financial well-being.


As the baby-boom population ages, adults are asked to take greater responsibility and control of their financial situation, but often are not equipped to assume that responsibility. This lack of control of one’s finances exposes individuals to financial risk in retirement, potentially resulting in insufficient income to maintain an existing standard of living and increasing the current level of poverty among older adults. With origins in social learning theory, a general measure of control was advanced by Rotter (1966) and represents the varied degree of perceived control people believe they have over their lives. Lachman (1986) augmented the general research on the psychology of control by supporting the use of domain-specific assessments of control in aging research (i.e. control over an aspect of one’s life, such as work, finances, or health). Two components of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), the core survey and a psycho-social leave behind questionnaire (LBQ) in 2006, will be used to relate personal attributes, financial well-being, and general and domainspecific control measures in this study. We hypothesize that the results of this study will indicate that domain-specific control beliefs have an effect on the financial well-being of a stratified segment of the older adult population. As a result, appropriately designed interventions that affect control over one’s finances can improve the financial well-being of older adults who risk financial insecurity in old age. The results of this study will enhance the resiliency of the older American population as they face financial challenges in their later years.

Funded By: 
Award Dates: 
July 1, 2008 - June 30, 2009
PARC Grant Year: 
Year 15